‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Robot Character Revealed?

This afternoon CBS released another behind the scenes video, this time with a focus on the uniforms and costumes for Star Trek: Discovery. It is another good insight into the creation of the show but there was one brief moment that caught our eye that wasn’t exactly about costumes. It was a shot of a particular member of the USS Discovery bridge crew.

Who is that?

Airiam the robot

Back in August 2016 Discovery co-creator Bryan Fuller had said he wanted robots to be in the show. And in an article last week we highlighted a section of a set visit to Star Trek: Discovery regarding discussion of a robot character named Airiam.

It’s an exotic-looking prosthetic, which makes sense since the character is a robot. He described the prosthetic as “almost like a jigsaw puzzle,” with assorted pieces, a helmet, contact lenses and more. Airiam, who works on the Discovery bridge and will usually be seen off to Lorca’s side, needs to look smooth on the screen and that may be accomplished on occasion with complementary CGI.

The glimpse of the character above from the new video seems to match the description of Airiam. Having a robot “off to Lorca’s side” could have described some kind of non-sentient robotic assistant, essentially a walking version of Siri or Alexa. However, if the above picture is Airiam, then Discovery is establishing that Starfleet had a sentient robot officer in the 23rd century.

Advanced androids were certainly seen in Star Trek’s 23rd century. The Star Trek episodes: “What are Little Girls Made Of?”, “I, Mudd”, “Return to Tomorrow”, and “Requiem for Methuselah” all featured androids. More androids were seen in 24th century Star Trek shows, most notably Lt. Commander Data in The Next Generation.

Norman the android from TOS episode “I, Mudd”

Who’s on first?

The issue of canon that may arise is that Data was said to be the first of his kind to join Starfleet. The case for Discovery keeping consistent with canon may come down to the technical differences between an android and a robot or even a Soong-type android. Regardless, it may be that Airiam is the first artificial life-form to join Starfleet. 

However, unlike Data, it doesn’t appear that Airiam is a major character and she may even be just a background character. It is even possible that Airiam will never be specifically said to be a robot. The description of the character as a robot may only be something used by the design team and therefore never established with on-screen canon. 

Data (Brent Spiner) from Star Trek: The Next Generation

Video on Discovery costumes

Here is the full video with producers and designers talking about creating the new Starfleet uniforms and other costumes for Discovery.

Video from Netflix for those outside US/Canada

 


 

Star Trek: Discovery premieres on September 24th on CBS with all subsequent episodes on CBS All Access in the US.  In Canada Star Trek: Discovery will premiere  on Bell Media’s CTV and the Space Channel on the same night. Netflix will launch Star Trek: Discovery on Monday, September 25 to countries outside of the U.S. and Canada.

Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.

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85 Comments on "‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Robot Character Revealed?"

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Reminds me of Nebula

Lol, the robot reminds me of Woody Allen pretending to be a robot in ‘Sleeper’

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQA55C0jJTZRhJGTMBaVivnG_PmQwFtHWzbOmbxd9Tp9vs0IOf-Fw

“Lt. Commander Nebbish, please engage the Orgasmotron”

WHERE’S MY ORB???!!!

@Shilliam Watner,

Lol.

The simplest explanation is that they tried AIs, but were proven unreliable, in the way Ash was in ALIENS. And maybe the use on the Discovery was the first test — an experimental device on an experimental vessel, which failed, and the program disbanded by TOS. There was a character on Bad Robots bridge, with some kind of cyber implants too. Mainly a background character. Hopefully this will be too, because trying to turn a robot character into some kind of compelling character as part of the drama for us to connect with as an audience really would put us in Data territory, and that’s best avoided for a number of reasons. Now, a character like Robot from LOST IN SPACE, is something completely different. Clearly a robot, but one we came to love and adore for his limitations as much as his contributions.

Re: LOST IN SPACE: though it’s not popular to mention that oh-so-silly old show around these parts, it had far better looking “robots” (Robot and Robby, for example) than this silly Airiam makeup. Even when the Irwin Allen shows had people painted silver wearing silver lame’ coveralls and skull caps, they looked better than this. How about having featureless metal boxes flipping around in the air like the junk-bot in INTERSTELLAR? That clunker was a hoot, but at least it would make more sense if used in the STD period. This show looks so wrong in so many ways.

Loved the robots in LIS.
and the first season was fairly serious and somewhat serialized.

I totally appreciate the respect for LIS, and those classic robots. They didn’t have to emote or try to emulate humans, they were robots. What would be interesting is if they have an instance where this Airiam goes haywire, ala Ash, and it puts the ship or crew in danger, kills someone by mistake, etc, which would make a case for why we don’t see another AI until Data’s time. Canon, intact.

Ash wasn’t in Aliens, he was in Alien. Also, he wasn’t a ‘trial version’ android. He was placed there without the knowledge of the crew for the purpose of collecting an alien specimen. Ash being an android, the alien would be unlikely to ‘kill’ him. The Nostromo crew were expendable & they were intended to never find out about Ash’s identity as an android. Also, if the events & characters of Prometheus & Alien:Covenant are considered canon, then David would be the first ‘trial’ android of his type. Walter would tend to prove they’d fixed all the bugs in the design…YEARS prior to Ash.

Additionally, Ash did precisely what he was supposed to do. The crew was expendable, they found out, he attempted to stop/kill them in order to complete his mission.

Star Trek Z Frieza on the bridge.

Now that you point it out, I can’t unsee it. Airiam has assumed its final form!

In my head canon, World War III involved a great deal of robots and AI to kill all those millions of people, and so humans have been wary of them ever since, much like genetic engineering and the Eugenics Wars. This might also explain why Soong had to do his work on distant colonies and out of the way places.

It looks like Shit.

My namesake on TNG would still have sex with it.

I agree, he would.

Nothing but the props look right on this show.

According to you Trekboi…according to you

I agree.

It’ll be interesting to see if there’s any explanation given. Perhaps Airiam was built by Starfleet. Maybe it isn’t sentient. Would it pass Maddox’s criteria?

It looks like we can see Airiam’s equivalent of a spine exposed below its chin. The neck only comes around part way.

With luck this scifi abortion will be exterminated early on…like the first 3 seconds after the opening titles.

Seriously, what were they thinking with this design???

I was looking forward to some interesting retro design like a Robby the Robot style which would have been far better then going with yet another humanoid mess.

A Robby the Robot design would have been a disaster. Maybe on the Orville.

@ZB — because Robby the Robot wouldn’t fly as realistic 300 years from today’s technology, even VOYAGER made that clear with Tom Perris’ holodeck programs. Have you seen the kinds of robots they’re currently creating in Japan? Heck my Roomba is more advanced than Robby, and better looking too.

No, your Roomba does not look better than Robby. Robby rules!

AMEN!
And judging by the design of the interiors a Robby style robot would have blended in much better then another fragile humanoid thingy.

Layering fake looking skin over a robotic frame doesn’t make a better robot.
It does make a silly looking and rather creepy robot like the ones currently coming out of Japan.
Even Data’s creator couldn’t come up with a better looking skin, that’s why he’s so artificially pale.
Sure he created a better looking daughter but that was well after Data himself was created.

A Robby style robot that’s completely versatile with diverse advanced abilities would have had a much more interesting impact then another humanoid android in uniform.
And it’s marketing for toys would have been greater.
Can’t deny better tie ins.

An advanced retro floater droid would have been spectacular for the show.

@Zapp — meh, whatever you have to tell yourself to sleep at night ;-)

There is a reason why they had a droid like R2D2 and humanoid form like C3PO in Star Wars. At a certain point, robots like Robby fall more into the R2D2 category and need special accommodation, whereas C3P0 can work wherever a human can. Putting skin over a robot is neither here nor there. A lot of what Soong did to data was to make him more human so humans would be at ease around him, so of course they’re going to experiment with skin in different ways in early stages of development.

But I could go for a VINCENT or Maxamillian from THE BLACK HOLE.

Perhaps the Roomba is more advanced, but I bet Robby wouldn’t get hobbled and jammed up by encountering a loose sock under the couch. Just saying.

Zapp TOS had robots that were more human than Data. So just stop it.

@PEB

You know… That really is a very good point. But I would wager given the speech limitations of the I. Mudd androids that if they had better make up and effects in 1967 they would look a little different. But the other androids… Yeah they looked and acted and sounded human for a real reason. So the tech did exist for them.

Maybe not a robot, but… a cyborg?

The Orville is worthless doo doo and will likely be cancelled soon.

@Scott — maybe a Binar?

Wonder what those costumes are for on the right-hand side of the picture board at the 1:51ish mark of the USA video? They look like versions of a Starfleet uniform but it’s hard to tell.

Mudd’s secret agent?

That vid for outside US/Canada didn’t work,but as usual I found it elsewhere. Looks great!! And love the updates you guys do here on Trekmovie.com,great work! Keep it up.

The video worked for me. I also love the info dump we’ve gotten these last few days.

Yeah,it usually does for me too,been watching the interviews and stuff here,but for some reason this one just says not available. But found one that works by just searching the title. Good vid!

Is this the same robot that wears the “V.R. HELEMT” we have seen in other stills? In that case, I wonder if the make-up here is just to enable the face to be hidden better underneath the mask, or is this really the face we will see onscreen? Interesting.

*HELMET* ( sigh – I wish we could edit errors here in the comments section ).

LOL! TOTALLY agree!

Jeez, it’s like a mash-up of Karen Gillan’s ‘Nebula’ from Guardians Of The Galaxy and Robin Williams’ Bicentennial Man! I really disliked the ‘two-tone’ look of those characters, and so equally dislike this design too.

And I’d have preferred a more feature-less-looking kind of ‘humanoid’-shaped ‘robot’ than this ‘early’ precursor to ‘DATA’…but then, if the makers really needed to squeeze in a ‘robot’ into this, I’d rather it wasn’t a ‘humanoid’-shaped one in the first place.

@Cervantes — except on a ship with limited space, and access, wouldn’t a robot shaped like a humanoid be better than one that has to roll around and need special consoles built for access?

Sorry..but the uniforms are abysmal. The whole look of the show is a big turn-off.

@rob — you think they should be baggy velour turtlenecks?

Still better than the Trek pajamas that were TMP and early TNG.

Sybock\'s Other Brother

Never.

Really? Season 1 TNG uniforms were better? Cringe-worthy is more like it. Ok I admit I didn’t HATE TMP uniforms but they still look bland in comparison.

@PEB — actually TMP looked a lot like what I bet Roddenberry hoped the CAGE would look like, if he had a bigger budget … very similar color palette.

The TMP is one of the worst uniforms I ever saw. Just horrible. I don’t love Discovery’s uniforms but they will grow on me. The one from TMP never did.

I think I recall reading somewhere that TMP tried to stick with what some futurists were claiming future clothing or uniforms might look like. PJ’s.

@Kirok — TMP looked a lot like the SPACE 1999 uniforms designed by Rudi Gernreich (without the bell bottoms) which was in syndication right up to at least 1978. That series was heavily influential on all sci-fi at the time, particularly the visual effects which George Lucas hailed as a benchmark his effects should achieve.

Its a Reboot so what does it matter if Data was the first artificial lifeform in Starfleet as it was another universe.

Um, this is the same universe.

It’s not a reboot.

Alt universe Twiki?????

A robot!? Oh come on. This is going from bad to worse. Of course I would rather have a robot over Rapp and Cruz’s characters.

Go troll somewhere else

You know what they say about people who complain too much about gays. Closeted much there, Jack?

This isn’t a Trump board, Stop sounding like an narrow minded idiot.

It’s so bad- they could have done so many awesome (7 Million an episode) iRobot looks but they do this, it looks like a toy monkey.
More embarrassing than the Fantastic 4 superhero wanna be space tracksuits.

You are repeating yourself. So…. yawn. Broken record.

At the 1:51 mark there appears to be a design that looks like closer to the traditional TOS costume. It looks more like the “happy transporter accident” of the movie uniforms and TOS uniforms. I’m excited for everything, but am irrationally bothered by the decision to not go with something closer to the iconic uniforms. Simply from a business standpoint I don’t get it. The primary colors are so recognizable and are a key part of Star Trek DNA.

Me too. The look of this show is so wrong it’s ridiculous. They could not have made it less appropriate for its place on the timeline if they had tried.

@Clark — I don’t know, the more we’ve discussed that around here, the more silly it seems. And frankly TMP abandoned it, and by TWOK, that went away entirely for the TOS movies, brought back by TNG, but by their FIRST CONTACT, abandoned in favor of black and gray uniforms, which you hardly even knew had unique department colors, a uniform which was likewise adopted by DS9. And then ENT went all blue, with subtle department color accents, much like these uniforms — again mostly unnoticeable. Certainly following the Bad Robot films, there’s been a return to the primary color look, but seriously, does anybody besides Trekkies really care about such things? I think the answer is probably no, at least not to the extent it would affect any new viewers appreciation for it.

Is been my x that if you are a Trek-outsider, the colorful TOS and TNG-era uniforms are not iconic or part of the DNA, they are space pajamas. I don’t agree- but that’s how every non-trekkie person I know sees it.

Side note, Airiam totally reminds me of EDI from Mass Effect 3, which I always felt Starfleet needed. Airiam seems like a very primitive version of Data though which would mean that yeah, Data is still the first of his kind. I can’t take issue with it because I always looked at the robots in TOS and felt well they passed for human much more than Data did, what’s up with that Soong? But Data’s sense of wonder, his processing capability and functions are what essentially set him apart in my mind.

Not only does she look like EDI, the show itself seems heavily influenced by the aesthetics of Mass Effect. The very first promo they released even had the synth bass sound when the Shenzou was in warp. Which also looks very much like the Normandy jumping.

It’s all very cool, don’t get me wrong, I just think I would have tried to through quite a bit more Star Trek visual ties into it. When this show was announced I thought a lot about the options they had. At this point TOS is retro-futurism. You either reinvent Star Trek, as it looks they went with, or you go a Rouge One route and make it a period piece. Given the production quality of TOS, I don’t think a full period piece was ever a realistic option.

The other problem is that based off of today’s understanding, the very idea of biologically current humans flying around in space ships is silly. Even given FTL travel would somehow be possible. The trajectory of tech and where we’re heading doesn’t jive with Star Trek. So Star Trek, like most fiction, is a fun fantasy adventure grounded by some thought put into the science. I think they made the right decision to reimagine the visuals completely, I think they’d sell more swag though had put as much TOS DNA into the costumes as they did the props.

Absolutely: robots and androids are not the same. This need not violate canon that has Data serving as the first sentient artificial lifeform in Starfleet.

That looks SHIT.

Sybock\'s Other Brother

AKA…Sentient Heuristic Interface Terminal.

Speaking of costumes: Star Trek Online was doing a thing from Thursday morning to 10am Friday morning (Pacific time) where you could get the ST:Discovery uniforms. This is for PC right now with the console uniforms coming “soon.”
Really in love with the bridge too. Easily ranks as one of my favorite layouts right along with Defiant (with the holo projector), Sovereign, and the refit Connie (from Trek6). Sunday can’t come soon enough!

Sorry, no.

Wonder if Airiam will be able to use contractions….

…but only 85% of the time?

My prediction for a scene featuring Airiam:

Airiam: *slumps down on her console, steam is coming out of her body*
Captain Lorcas: “Oh no, not again! Wait a sec, I’ll call the robot technician. Mr. Soong? Please come to the bridge!”
Brent Spiner enters the scene, wearing a worker’s overall, with a toolbox in his hand and a huge mustache in his face. He opens a lit in Airiam’s body and begins with the repair, all while whistling some ditty.
Captain Loracs: “This… happens annoyingly often, Mr. Soong. I am beginning to question Starfleet’s choice to allow your family’s business to test-run them on our ships…”
Soong: “I know, sorry about that. But I can assure you that one day, our robots will be the perfected! If not by me, then perhaps by one of my descendants…”

;-) ;-) ;-)

:)

Nice.

Sybock\'s Other Brother

That may give me nightmares.

Neither video on this page works in Canada

The robot looks a bit naff to be honest. There’s no reason why it has to look like an disconnected Borg with patchwork features. It’s very much like a 1960’s/1970’s android visual where the rest is very much more modern.

@ziplock9000 — well nothing could be as bad as the 1970s android …

comment image

Is that Nebula… from Guardians of the Galaxy??? Small world… errr… galaxy. ;-)

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